Kohli could become too dominant a figure: Brearley

Kohli could become too dominant a figure: Brearley

Mike Brearley

Virat Kohli, whose insatiable hunger to be the best in the world has left almost everyone in awe of his craft and work ethic, often divides opinion with his on-field behaviour.

While some find his raw aggression and expletive-laden send-offs to batsmen unbecoming of a player of his stature, some fans connect with his style, feeling he represents the face of the new-age Indian youth who don’t think twice to fight fire with fire.

Former England captain Mike Brearley, considered one of the best England captains and a great thinker of the game, gave his thumbs-up to the Indian captain. “I like what I see. I quite like it. Everyone has a different style but he is very good in his own style. He is keen, hawk-eyed. It's good for Test cricket,” said the 76-year-old during an interaction at Edgbaston.

Brearley, whose book ‘The Art of Captaincy’ published in 1985 is still considered a treatise on the subject, feared Kohli could become too dominant a figure at the way he’s stacking up runs.

“I think Kohli is best in the world and anyone who averages 50 in all three formats must be a very very fine player. He can play in every mode and so can Joe Root. There is something ruthless about Kohli and he converts all those 50s into 100s and Root has got a poorer conversion rate but I think Root is a fine batsman too.

“It will be very nice for him (Kohli) to make it a lot easier! The one thing you wonder about Kohli is that he’s going to become too dominant a figure in Indian cricket. With great respect shown to great Indian cricketers (of the past), at the moment he (Kohli) is a deity in India. (He’s) like the 3000th deity. Will that be good for him and Indian cricket in the long run?” he wondered.

In 36 Tests as a captain, Kohli has hardly played the same combination for two consecutive games. In the guise of horses for courses policy, his constant tinkering has sometimes dented the confidence of the players. Brearley felt constant chopping and changing had its share of pros and cons.

“It is a matter of personality and judgment, and sometimes it is gut feeling. But the question is how right is one’s gut feeling. On one hand, you can keep the same side going and it makes people complacent and doesn’t give other people a chance. And, on the other hand, you could go in the other direction and chop and change too much. I don’t know the answer to that. I knew that fact was roughly true. I don’t know what to make of it.

“I would have gone with (Cheteshwar) Pujara at number three rather than (KL) Rahul (for the first Test). Somebody who averages 50 and has played County cricket in England this year, I know he has struggled but I would have liked him to come in at number three. Especially since he is likely to play a steady innings, blunt (James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad and enable Kohli to come a bit later when it is not moving a lot. This chopping and changing goes against my gut feeling. You can have gut feelings of all sorts and you can be completely right or completely wrong. So gut feeling is neither here nor there. But he is right too, you have to think about it and reflect on it and go with it because that’s how we make decisions.”

Brearley felt captaincy has become less inventive nowadays. “They have less experience of captaining in other cricket because they have so many contracts and so much ODI cricket and so on. They have less experience of captaining or managing. And they have coaches for this and that. I think the batting has become more aggressive and pitches have become better for batting. The scores have been higher, so I think captaincy has become less inventive on the whole.”

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